Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is it pain or renewal?

God calls the end times the “renewal of all things” in Mathew 19:28
“Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, that time of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

What appears to be pain and sorrow has frequently in my life been the predecessor of intimacy with God. The Gospel even calls the end times a renewal. What can I endure with the knowledge of God’s presence within me and his protection surrounding me?

Don’t we get excited when we know we’ve bought or made the perfect gift for someone? We wrap it carefully and well, decorating our emotional wish to please a loved one. We present it with a smile being that sure the recipient will be pleased. If it really is as perfect the gift we thought it to be, that mutual happiness of the moment adds joy and intimacy to the relationship. Wasn’t that the purpose of the gift in the first place?

God’s packages to us aren’t always pleasantly wrapped. His gifts aren’t always fun. But gifts they are. Pain, be it emotional, physical or spiritual can sometimes be a gift depending on the way we see and appreciate it. We must accept gifts gracefully and acknowledge the Giver. Simply being a participant on this globe, of course, can impose pain. Even that pain though, is a gift and can be transformed.

So God gifts us or allows us to experience sorrow. Is it to test us? To prove us? Or like many gifts does it depend on our spirit of understanding and acceptance? Do we rebel asking such questions as “why me?” citing our honest attempts to live a decent life? Reading the lives of the saints helps me in this area the most.

St Joan of Arc
Blessed Mary of Australia
St. Louis Marie De Montfort

They were misunderstood, judged to be insane and persecuted for their Godly lives. What made them saints is their heroic degree of virtue. And Joan, Mary and St. Louis Marie De Montfort were simple human beings like us. Their prayer life, i.e. their intimacy with God in the face of trial gave them strength and courage.

Renewal of all things.
Times of refreshing from the Lord.
It does require time spent in the Lord’s presence to be able to translate pain and sorrow into renewal and refreshing. It’s barely human to be able to do that at all. Spiritual intimacy with the one who was persecuted for our sins is the only way for me.

Prayer: Jesus you know how much I really mean that. I come to you be to repaired and made whole. Re-paired that is, to be paired up with you again. Your example and your love is my strength. Thank you for ALWAYS being there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting is Hard...

In the Old Testament the people waited for a Messiah. They ended up with Someone not like what they expected.
They wanted a king.
They got a pauper.
They wanted someone to reign over them.
They got someone who was killed.
They wanted Israel to become a world power.
That country has ben in political distress for centuries.
They wanted to be rescued.
Instead they were saved.

I have the same problem. It's not that I expect sunny days and smiling faces everywhere I go. But I honestly did not expect betrayal by friends and family, illness, drug overdoses, extreme poverty and work instability.
I didn't expect to have the wind knocked out of me so that I was powerless and unable to cope -more or less fix- any of this that all happened in the past 14 months.
I'm looking for a Messiah, Jesus. You understand I'm anxious and upset. You understand how hard this has all been. You have been beside me during every minute of that. I don't doubt that at all. I return to be in your daily presence in prayer seeking direction, advice, comfort.

So I know how they felt, those desert wanderers in the Old Testament. It would be easy to get distracted and start looking at the scenery or each other rather than keep our focus on you. And they waited and longed for you for generations! They couldn't read the rest of The Book and see how it all turned out. They deserve respect and admiration for hanging in there - waiting.

There's something self-emptying about all this waiting....
I have a lot to learn from those Old Testament folks.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A casket and a manger

My 30 yr old nephew Tony is being buried today
Fri 12/12/08.
A casket and a manger look kind of alike.
Each one contained a person.
A box that holds a loved one.
One wrapped in swaddling clothes, the other covered with a blanket.
Both are lying there for a short while, surrounded by family and angels.
One makes sense of the other.